CFB 24/7  

 

NFL draft implications from frenized first day of free agency

Print
  • By Andy Fenelon NFL.com
More Columns >

The 2016 NFL Draft is still 50 days away, but Day 1 of free agency is starting to make it feel a lot closer.

With every signing and departure, a draft need is filled and created. Here are some of the more interesting draft implications from the free-agency moves made on Wednesday, the first day of the NFL's calendar year.

Watch:

Eagles-Dolphins trade

The swapping of first-round picks in a trade between the Eagles and Dolphins is interesting because both teams could now be zeroing in on the same player in the draft -- RB Ezekiel Elliott. The Eagles moved up five spots and will now draft at No. 8 overall; the Dolphins move to No. 13.

With DeMarco Murray being traded by Philadelphia to Tennessee, and Miami losing its top rusher from 2015, Lamar Miller, to Houston, voids in the backfield for both teams are now present.

Which adds intrigue to the top third of the first round for the Eagles and Dolphins. Elliott is considered the top running back in the draft and some consider him the most complete back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson (No. 7 pick in the 2007 draft by Minnesota). NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein has him going to Philadelphia in a mock draft that was released on Wednesday.

Of course, a team like the Cowboys could spoil it all by taking Elliott at No. 4. Elliott has already stated publicly that Dallas is his preferred destination. "The Cowboys (are my pick)," he said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "I want to go play behind that great offensive line they have down in Dallas."

Hackenberg's stock takes hit

Heading into free agency, it was almost unanimous among league insiders that Christian Hackenberg's likely draft destination was Houston, and that the Texans were the only team that would have been willing to spend as high as a second-round pick on the Penn State quarterback. But Houston's stunning acquisition of Brock Osweiler on Wednesday dramatically changed the course of a potential marriage, or at least one that would have over-hyped his value.

Houston could still take Hackenberg, who was coached at Penn State by Texans coach Bill O'Brien. But it won't be in the second or third rounds. It will more likely only take a fourth- or fifth-round pick to acquire Hackenberg now, a draft position more reflective of his value.

Lions shift priorities

A day after losing Calvin Johnson to retirement, the Lions made a nice recovery by signing wide receiver Marvin Jones. New GM Bob Quinn knows Jones can't replace Johnson all by himself, but the former Bengals wideout is an underrated player who got lost behind A.J. Green in Cincinnati. He has good size, is great after the catch and gritty, and should serve as a solid complement to Golden Tate.

The signing will now allow the Lions to shift their draft attention. While wide receiver will still need to be addressed, offensive tackle and defensive tackle become much higher priorities.

2016 NFL DRAFT

Draft coverage:

Interestingly enough, at the same time the Marvin Jones news was being announced on Wednesday, Lions DL coach Kris Kocurek was closely watching defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A'Shawn Robinson work out at Alabama's pro day in Tuscaloosa. Both players are projected to be around when Detroit picks at No. 16 in the first round.

Benjamin gives Chargers options

No matter how big the need, the Chargers were never going to take a receiver with the No. 3 overall pick -- certainly not with this class of wideouts, which ranks well behind the previous two. But they likely would have needed to dip in at some point in the second or third rounds and grab one. But their signing of deep-threat Travis Benjamin on Wednesday now gives them options to address other needs on Day 2 of the draft.

DB Jalen Ramsey makes a lot of sense for San Diego at No. 3, and so does OT Laremy Tunsil, should he fall there. The signing of Benjamin now allows the Chargers to focus on the draft's deepest position and one of the team's biggest needs -- defensive line -- in Rounds 2 and 3.

Best available for Giants

Take pass rusher off the New York Giants' needs list after what they did in a 24-hour period that included the re-signing of Jason Pierre-Paul and the acquisition of Olivier Vernon, arguably the top defensive end in free agency and maybe the top free agent overall.

They also signed CB Janoris Jenkins and could now focus solely on offense if they so choose. Problem is, defense is the strength of this draft. With that said, Jerry Reese is now in position to do what every general manager wishes he could do in the draft -- stay true to his board and take the best available player.

While the 10th overall pick is probably too rich for a player like Laquon Treadwell, the wide receiver would make a nice complement to Odell Beckham.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter @NFL_CFB.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop